By Kim Miller, RDH, BSDH – International speaker, educator and dental hygiene coach.
The most important safeguard against COVID-19 is a well-functioning, strong immune system. Believe it or not, healthy gums are a huge factor in determining the strength of your immune system. Your mouth is the gateway to your body and when your gums bleed dangerous bacteria (from your mouth) have direct access to the rest of your body via your blood stream. Once these bacteria enter your blood stream, they travel everywhere your blood travels; your gut, your liver, your pancreas, your kidneys, your uterus, and even your brain, just to name a few!
AND if you have any other co-morbidities or medical/systemic issue like Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Kidney Disease, Lupus, Chrones Disease, Fibromialgia, Heart Disease, COPD, High Blood Pressure, Liver Disease, Dementia, Alzhiemers, and so on, you are at even greater risk. This is a condition called ‘The Inflammatory Burden’!
Imagine a layer cake where each ‘layer’ is a medical/systemic issue, like those listed above, which actually become a burden on your immune system and soon your immune system will reach a tipping point. Layer after layer of inflammation means your body can no longer manage all the inflammation and consequently illness is the result.
Your Dental Hygienist is an expert in determining the state of your periodontal health or disease. It’s more important now than ever before to visit your Dental Hygienist, who will provide you with a simple exam,to ensure that your gums are healthy! Your Hygienist will check the areas you can easily clean at home as well as the areas that are difficult to reach, below the gumline. If your gums are bleeding, there are treatment options available for you; your Dentist and Hygienist will discuss treatment(s) that best fits your need.
By reducing the inflammatory burden, or the layer of inflammation, caused by your gums when you have gingivitis or periodontal disease you can significantly reduce the overall inflammatory burden your immune system must manage. In general, a healthy mouth supports a healthy body!
You might be asking, “How do I know if my mouth is healthy?” The first step is to ensure that you have no active tooth decay, broken or damaged teeth that should be restored back to health. Second, is evaluating the health of your gums. Your Hygienist will provide a periodontal examination and here’s what you need to know; normal readings are 1, 2, or 3 mm AND healthy gums do not bleed! If your exam reveals anything other than health, your dental treatment team will create a suitable treatment plan, customized for you!